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Inspired eco classrooms: connect learning with the outdoors

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Photo courtesy of Inspired Building Systems

This week’s blog post is brought to you by our expert contributor, Inspired Building Systems. They delve into how best to give your classroom a feel of the outdoors.

Bringing the outdoors indoors is a concept that many people overlook as difficult, unnecessary or unappealing; however, with some careful consideration and collaboration with pupils, it can yield some fantastic results.

So much inspiration can be drawn from the outdoors, from colours to shapes and materials; these can all be used to model the inside of any classroom, anywhere. Eco classrooms are especially easy to adapt, as they’re already connected and integrated with the environment and the outdoors.

Here are just a few of an unlimited list of ideas for linking your eco classroom to the surroundings:

Bring plants indoors – This in an easy, effortless way to bring nature into your eco classroom, as well as a quick spot of interior decorating! You could use a variety of fresh flowers or leafy plants. Plants also improve the air quality, so you’re doing everybody a favour.

Grow your own plants – You could even try growing your own indoor plants from seeds or shoots, anything from small, pretty primroses to slightly more unusual bamboo plants – there are thousands of choices available.

Encourage natural light – Like some other buildings and classrooms, eco classrooms have very large glass windows, some stretching floor to ceiling, which allows bright, natural light to stream in, thus reducing the need for too much artificial light and energy. If your classroom doesn’t already have large windows, you could try not using blinds, curtains or posters that may obstruct the light.

Lighter walls reflect light – Brighter, lighter walls will work alongside the natural light to brighten and illuminate a classroom, giving you the effect that you are in fact outside! You could repaint entire walls, or for eco classrooms for younger children, you could very simply paint on the walls, anything from flowers and trees to butterflies and bees – there are many designs to consider.

Introduce wood as furniture – Eco classrooms are typically wooden on the outside, so they are quite literally made of the outdoors. Introducing more wood into your classroom in the form of rustic benches, tables, or even a small tree, can really help add to the natural, outdoorsy atmosphere of a classroom.

These are just some of many methods that you can use to help bring the outdoors into your eco classroom, but the possibilities are truly endless, from small scale to large, drastic changes, and with many options at very low costs, it can be easy to create an inviting and inspiring space.

Eco classrooms are very flexible learning environments, and can be used to fascinate children and students of all ages. For example, younger children enjoy the freedom of being so close to the outdoors, particularly if you choose to use some of the aforementioned ideas and bring the outdoors into your eco classroom. On the other hand, older children can be taught the workings of the solar panels embedded into the eco classrooms, and learn in more depth about the functions and benefits of their eco classroom.

Eco classrooms provide contrast to regular classrooms, which results in children being fascinated by the building, and curious as to how and why certain aspects are beneficial to themselves and the environment. This, therefore, creates an ideal learning environment for all ages, as their minds are already engaged and ready to learn.

Are you willing to let the outdoors in? Let us know in the comments below!

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